Our investing blueprint traces its roots in both the Hermoy farmland country where Standard was originally incepted and our founding family’s legacy.
From the first — a place where folks keep their heads stocked with prairie-town views and values — it inherited the nimble, no-nonsense spirits that have shaped its approach to ownership. From the second, a resolute set of values centered around culture and character.
We operate on principles that are old, simple and few. Our natural preference is to acquire shares in growing companies run by proven owners-operators when they go through a temporary setback. We are sector-agnostic and opportunity-driven, but adamant on value.
This means that we look for businesses that we can understand and that earn high rates of return on shareholders’ capital over the long run, with limited recourse to leverage and ideally untapped pricing power to exploit. Provided, of course, that these opportunities get accessible at compelling valuations, for we always insist on investing with a margin of safety.
Operations-wise, we are most comfortable when committing capital against a backdrop of industry distress or market dislocation. Buying when others are despondently selling requires the greatest fortitude but pays the greatest rewards. Beyond basic analytical skills, the latter requires a contrarian mindset and a long-term orientation that, fortunately, we can provide in spades.
In all cases, our portfolio management comes down to these essential characteristics:
1. A careful selection of a few investments chosen in relation to the discrepancy between their price and intrinsic value; to the quality and integrity of their management teams; and to the alternative investments available at the time.
2. A steadfast holding of these large commitments through thick and thin until either they have fulfilled their promise or it is evident that they were purchased on a mistake.
3. A balanced investment position — that is, a variety of risks in spite of individual holdings being large, coupled with sizeable reserves of cash at hand to absorb financial shocks and maintain optimal latitude of action.
Our philosophy is to always keep an open mind, adhering to an approach that could best be described as purposely simple and chiefly driven by sheer opportunism. We have no strategic agenda or long-term plan other than doing sensible things, pouncing with vigor on those rare opportunities that fall into our modest circle of competence whenever they surface, which by essence isn’t often.
Deferring to tested investment rules, we believe in detaching ourselves from volatility concerns, for the market is here to serve us, not to instruct us; in thinking independently and having the courage to side against the consensus when conviction and reason command it; in demanding a substantial margin of safety in every capital commitment we contemplate; in avoiding anything that doesn’t match our standard of virtue and integrity; and of course, in always keeping things simple and pleasant.
We, like our partners and the diverse group of institutions and families we advise on some occasions, are always looking forward to connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs and investors. If you share a similar approach than ours in your own business endeavors, or wish to discuss a specific project, we would certainly be thrilled to hear from you.